AR, VR and MR are all acronyms used to describe digital experiences that allow people to feel as though they are part of a virtual world at different levels. With immersive technologies developing so fast, and thanks to the acronyms, many people are becoming confused as to how each differs. Hopefully the following information will clear up some of the confusion for you.
What is Augmented Reality? (AR)
Augmented reality is the overlaying of digitally-created content on top of the real world. Augmented reality – or ‘AR’ – allows the user to interact with both the real world and digital elements or augmentations. AR can be offered to users via headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens, through the video camera of a smartphone like our ARitize mobile app or without an app via advanced AR plugins like our ARitize eCommerce tool.
While much of the consumer interest, investment activity and industry hype first focussed on virtual reality, augmented reality is increasingly becoming more prominent thanks to its lack of dedicated hardware. The accessibility provided by AR by not completely restricting the user’s vision along with the vast potential of untethered usage have increased its popularity.
According to a recent report from Tractica, the installed base of actively used mobile AR apps will grow from 292 million in 2015 to more than 2.2 billion by 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76%. As demonstrated by the phenomenal success of Pokémon GO – as well as AR’s rapid uptake as a tool in industrial and creative workplaces – AR has an opportunity to enjoy substantial success reaching large audiences.
For more insights into the opportunity AR presents, check out Why the biggest brands are running toward AR eCommerce and why every brand needs an AR strategy now.
What is Virtual Reality? (VR)
As virtual reality has evolved and found different uses in different sectors, several different definitions have emerged, most of which significantly overlap with one another. Discrepancies exist. The following elements, however, are near universal in framing what VR offers:
- Computer-generated stereo visuals which entirely surround the user, entirely replacing the real world environment around them. Many believe this definition rightly excludes 360 video from true VR.
- Content is consumed and experienced from a viewer-centric perspective.
- Real-time user interaction within the virtual environment is possible.
What is Mixed Reality? (MR)
In a mixed reality (MR) experience, which combines elements of both AR and VR, real-world and digital objects interact. Rather than just being added to the real world, the experiences instead are interactive to a point where they can be used in many applications. Characters and scenarios can be mixed real world surroundings. Mixed reality technology is just now starting to take off with Magic leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens as two of the most notable early mixed reality apparatuses.
Which One Is Right For Me?
Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies are quickly developing. Figuring out which fits your brand best can be intimidating at first. The core advantages for implementing augmented reality is that the technology is easily available, the usage is intuitive and the adoption is far outpacing VR and MR.
At Nextech AR Solutions, we can guide you through the many benefits of augmented reality. No matter what market you serve or how much of a budget you have to do it, contact us today and we’ll help you create a winning immersive strategy.